Hiba has been teaching for many years and she seems to carry the same enthusiasm of her first day when we meet her in class at Moasat Center, in the Lebanese city of Saida.
Assuring quality primary education to every child is the main goal of every teacher, it is upon their work, that relies the success of every stage of education. However, providing bridges for knowledge and learning is certainly no easy task, so it’s natural to ask: How does she do it?
Hiba decided to become a teacher back in 2009, when she received her teaching qualification certificate in Jeddah. After living in Saudi Arabia for a few years, she decided to return to her Lebanese hometown, Saida. She now teaches Lebanese and Syrian kids in Early Child Education programs of the project Back to the Future 2, implemented by AVSI, Terre des Hommes Italy and War Child Holland and funded by the EU – Madad Trust fund. Her strategy has remained the same: “My students often have no previous educational background. When I begin each new lesson, I tell them what they will be learning and how they will show me they have learned it. Next, I show them how to do it. We practice together first, then they work on their own or through group activities which stimulate team spirit. In this way, their self-esteem and learning skills will rapidly increase”.
What makes Hiba a good teacher is certainly her capacity to make students aware of their potential, increasing their curiosity and confidence, while making the class as enjoyable as possible: “schools don’t have to be perceived as prisons, but as a safe environment where to learn and play together. That’s why I think outdoor classes are really important. There are several exercises and games we use to give them responsibility and trust. I usually prefer to separate the class in different groups to encourage teamwork and inclusion. In this way, they become more keen to continue to the next activity”.
Nevertheless, from time to time it happens that some students disturb the class and do not follow the school procedures, preventing other children from finishing their task. In these cases, she does not scold them, she simply reminds them about the class rules and calms them: “Every student has his/her own personality and background but they have to be treated equally. According to my experience you have to ignore the bad-tempered ones at first, otherwise they will feel like the kings of the class. The second step is to calm them down and talk with them at the end of the class to make them aware of their wrong behaviour. Sometimes they’ll speak about bad experiences at home. We try then to encourage them to overcome their private problems and spend quality time with new friends in class”.
Thanks to the new tools and materials introduced in the centre by the NGO’s consortium, Hiba and her colleagues are embellishing the school with a little help from the kids, creating a nicer and safer environment for them. As Hiba says “I personally think it’s our duty as teachers to use the provided materials such as speakers, colourful banners and school kits in the best way to optimize the resources and space we have for the benefit of all”. She knows that giving trust and responsibility to students will make them grow and be more creative at the same time: “teacher and students are moving toward the same goal, that’s when learning happens.”
While she keeps at bay three children who are stretching their hands in search of attention, we ask Hiba if she’s still happy to teach after 11 years of this profession: “Yes, this is not only a job, this is my vocation and what I love to do. Every day I see my students growing up and leaving the class happier and stronger, than when they entered, is an incredible reward for me”.
Hiba, as well as her colleagues at the centre, certainly deserved a certificate of appreciation granted by the staff of the NGO for the Teacher’s Day: “I am grateful to meet up with AVSI staff on this day and highlight the work of the teachers. It definitely encourages us to continue to do our job with passion. This is the way Teacher’s Day should be celebrated.”